Negotiation Team Success at Regionals

The Alexander Blewett III School of Law ABA Negotiation Competition Team returned from a successful appearance at the Regional Competition in Salt Lake City, Utah. This was a notable year for the Team as it marks the final year for Coach Klaus Sitte. In his 29-year tenure as the Negotiation Team coach, Sitte estimates he has taken more than 70 teams to the Regional Competition.

This year’s veteran team of Asa Hohman ’18, Jennifer Morgan ’18, Haley Ford ’19, Kirsi Luther ’19, Sean McQuillan ’19, and Zac Hixson ’19 faced fierce competition at the University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law. They met 24 teams from 12 law schools across the Southwest. The Morgan/Hixson duo made the Team proud finishing in 7th place.

The Negotiation Team, under Sitte’s guidance, has had numerous accolades over the years. Sixteen teams have proceeded to the quarter final round at their respective Regional competitions. Nine teams have advanced to the National Competition. Three teams have placed at the National Competition: the 1997 team ranked third in the nation and the 2002 team placed second. In 2016, the team of Frans Andersson ‘17 and Kirsi Luther finished second at Nationals and third at the International Competition in Oslo, Norway, the best showing of any of the law school's Negotiation Team. Theirs marked the Team's second appearance at the International Competition.

The 2016 National Competition also marked the School of Law’s fourth consecutive appearance at Nationals. Nick Vandenbos ‘16 and Lindsey Thane ‘16 made two successive appearances in 2015 and 2016. Vandenbos is the only team member to have advanced to Nationals all three years of law school.

This success is a testament to Sitte’s coaching methods: over the years he has honed a practice-based “learn by doing” approach. Utilizing the interest-based methodology, the Team relies on theory, accompanied by much trial and error, all in the context of a supportive environment. Ford ’19, a returning 2L teammate, emphasized how satisfying it was to look back on her first few negotiations and realize how much she has learned. “Watching the process - our metamorphosis into becoming competent negotiators - has been incredibly rewarding.” Jennifer Morgan ’18 joined the team to become a better public speaker, but feels she received more than she bargained for. “Klaus’s methods build team-wide trust. We get to the place where we let six other people tell us what we could have done better, and it works because it’s a safe place.” Asa Hohman ’18, a member of the Negotiation Team throughout law school, said his favorite part of the experience was “working with Coach Klaus.” Luther agrees, “Klaus is a fantastic mentor. Our team has been successful because Klaus emphasizes the long-term value: teaching negotiation skills that will enhance our practice of law.”

Not only the teams have benefited from Sitte’s years of experience. Sitte began training and teaching Negotiation in 1991 as an attorney with Montana Legal Services Association and adjunct faculty at the law school. Since then, he has taught Negotiations in 36 states and internationally, in Micronesia, Guam and China. For the past several years, he has taught not only Negotiations, but also Alternative Dispute Resolution at the School of Law and twice coached the Mediation Team. When asked “what’s next?” Sitte replied, “New challenges and opportunities are what keeps me going.  I will still be a part of helping others learn.”

Members of the Negotiation Team pose with Coach Klaus Sitte

Pictured left to right: Kirsi Luther, Haley Ford, Sean McQuillan, Klaus Sitte, Asa Hohman, Jennifer Morgan, Zac Hixson